Fullness of JOY

adobe-spark-postYou will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

They say healing from childhood sexual abuse comes in layers.

A new layer has peeled back for me.  My word for 2018 is JOY, and what keeps rolling around in my mind is “fullness of joy.”

In your presence is fullness of Joy.

How do you truly experience the fullness of joy when you have spent much of your life avoiding, ignoring and hiding emotions?

I stuffed the pain away deep inside so that I would no longer feel it.
I glossed over it, excused it, and tried to find the silver lining in the trash heap.
It was hard for me to cry sometimes when I should, and other times the tears rolled off my cheeks when I tried to lock them in.
Smiling was like a habit.  It was normal to pretend like everything was fine.
I slowly constructed walls a mile high to protect heart from any intrusion.

When the ache started to rumble, I would use food or anything I could to stuff the pain deep inside so I would no longer feel.

A way of numbing.
A way of coping.
A way of hiding.
A way of surviving.

And then, I met Jesus in my pain.

As each wall crumbled, He helped me to peel back the layers.

Layers and layers of memories poured out like a fire hydrant.

I thought when I sat in my counselors office and cried every Thursday for three years, I had let it all out.

And then, there was “fullness of joy” and a whole new layer has peeled back.

Those three words, “fullness of joy”… made me think of three other words – “fullness of pain.”

A memory still pops up out of nowhere.
Something seemingly simple can trigger me.
That will likely never stop.

In this fullness of joy season with Jesus… I am sitting with Him and “feeling” the fullness of that pain.

Stuffing is no longer an option.
Donuts are not the solution.
I cry and I don’t have to explain it away, even when it is awkward.

In it all, I sense His presence.

It’s as if He is whispering to the little girl inside of me,

“I’m here and it is okay to cry.
It is okay to grieve all that was lost.
I want you to let it out, safely in my arms.
I am showing you how to feel with me.
Feel it for what it truly was, and let it go.

It’s time.

Emotions are a gift from me.
We will untangle yours, together.
You don’t have to hide anymore.
You don’t have to stuff anymore.
No barriers, no walls.

You are safe.

This fullness of pain is emptying out the deep recesses in your heart.
I will not leave you empty… I am replenishing you with the fullness of joy.

Joy in my presence. Joy with me.”

If I am not able to truly feel the fullness of the pain, how will I ever truly feel the fullness of His joy?

The pain may never completely go away, but there will always be HOPE.

Hope doesn’t require a carb overload.
Hope is not denial or minimizing the reality of the horrific experiences and the aftermath.
Hope is not pretending it wasn’t that bad, and maybe the good outweighed the awful.
Hope is not isolation.
Hope is not forgetting about it and moving on.

Hope is when the light shines in the darkest places.

Those places can be incredibly painful, but there is always hope. Hope is when His light shines in the darkness. His hope brings the light, and with the light comes the fullness of joy.

Psalm 30:10-12 VOICE

Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me,
    Eternal One—be merciful!

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing;
    You stripped off my dark clothing
    and covered me with joyful light.
You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs!
    It’s impossible to keep quiet!
    Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.

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Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV

Fear has always been my constant companion. It doesn’t take much to trigger fear in me. I’m often afraid of something. In fact when I’m not afraid, I worry about what will happen next and the cycle of fear continues.

When I finally realized why I was so scared and that I didn’t have to live afraid anymore, then fear lost its grip on me.

Fear still visits me more than I’d like to admit, but when it shows up now, I’m armed and ready.

Are you ready to say, #ByeByeFear?

Click below to watch as I share my story of “Overcoming Fear by Trusting in Jesus” at the Hope Restored Women’s Conference.

Additional Resources:

Fight F. E. A. R. by…

F – Fixing your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2-3)
E – Engaging with safe community (Hebrews 10:23-25)
A – Admitting you’re struggling with fear (Psalm 34:17-18)
R – Releasing it, and replacing it with God’s promises (Psalm 56:3)

Questions for Personal Reflection:  

  1. What fears are holding you back?
  2. What lies were whispered to you that make you feel unworthy, unloved and insecure?
  3. Have you given Him full access to your story?

Key Verses:  

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My King, My Redeemer

He reaches deep into the pit to deliver you from death. He crowns you with unfailing love and compassion like a king. Psalm 103:4 VOICE

I was in a pit.

Discouragement blew in like a tornado and I started to sink.

It was a slow and steady decline.

There was so much noise in my mind, and everything felt intense.

Glancing at social media made me feel inadequate, insecure, and intimidated like I was in junior high again.

The darkness was so loud.

So many “too’s”.  #metoo #themtoo #churchtoo

Words echoed all of the aches and pain.

Comments made me nauseous.

Hypersenstive and full of doubt, I felt like I was whining as I prayed that morning, “God, what is wrong with me? Help!”

As I stepped out of the shower, a song was playing on Pandora called “I Won’t Go Back” by William McDowell.

I wasn’t feeling it, but I was singing it. I was declaring it with him, “I won’t go back, I can’t go back, to the way it used to be. Before your presence came and changed me.”

And then the very next song that played was “Take Me To The King” by Tamela Mann and I was immediately reminded of how far God has brought me and how He has delivered me! That was the song of my heart years ago when I began my journey to heal from Childhood Sexual Abuse. It helped me to see Him as my King, and reminded me that I was His Daughter, His Princess.

How in the world did I find myself in the pit – again? Was I pushed or did I just slip in slowly? I honestly didn’t know the answer, but I knew without a doubt that the dark, hopeless pit was no longer my address.

I don’t live there anymore, and I won’t go back!

My Redeemer has delivered me.  He has already brought me out.

I immediately started to praise Him for what He has delivered me from, for where He has brought me, and for all He has done for me.

My King is faithful.  

Maybe like me, you have landed in the pit, again?  The enemy likes to make the pit seem nice and cozy, as if it is our home sweet home. When the walls of that pit are staring back at you, look up and let the One who lifts your head bring you back with a grateful heart of praise – for He is our rock and our redeemer! That pit is no longer our address. We don’t live there anymore and we are not going back.

We have been redeemed.  Let’s declare it together:

Praise the Lord, my soul;

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion, 

who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 NIV

Darkness into Light

You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:18 NIV 

“Darkness creeps into my life,
and robs my passion to live.
It swallows me whole and takes my breath
no kindness will it give.
I’m falling deep beneath the sea
and drowning in my despair
can someone take this away from me
Does anybody care?”

That was the beginning of a poem I wrote in college. I truly felt like darkness was my closest companion. Darkness wouldn’t leave me alone. No matter how hard I tried to be good, I wasn’t. I went to Bible Study, and then I went to clubs. I couldn’t get numb enough. The ache was always there.

Childhood Sexual Abuse causes extreme isolation. I couldn’t get too close to anyone because I didn’t want them to know.  It was too risky.  So, I kept all of the secrets to myself.

I had to wear a mask and pretend all is well.

But behind the mask, I was writhing in pain. My head hurt, my stomach hurt, and the voices were screaming…

The darkness is so very dark.  

The shame would crash over me at unexpected times. Maybe it was a comment someone made. I would read more into their comment and replay it over and over in my mind. Do they know? Can they tell what kind of girl I really am?

How do you hide from the darkness?
How do you run from the darkness?
How can you escape the darkness when it is your constant companion?

Shame’s raw aroma lingers far longer than the abuse.

The darkness says you are bad.
The darkness says you are guilty.
The darkness says you deserve it.
The darkness says God made you that way.
The darkness says there is no hope for you.

All of the secrets and memories fester in the darkness. The wounds ooze behind closed doors and eyelids.

And then there was light.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

Finally, in counseling I was able to use words to describe the darkness. As I continued to step into the light, the darkness started to lose its power over me.  The light brought me Truth, community, and love. I was no longer alone in the dark.

The Truth says you are wonderfully made.
The Truth says there is no condemnation.
The Truth says you are worthy.
The Truth says God made you in His image.
The Truth says there is hope.

There is hope, and His name is Jesus. When I gave Him access to my story and the darkness – His light and Truth healed me.

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

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